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Knititation® - knitting stitches for wellbeing

James McIntosh
June 6, 2019


It's just knitting stitches for wellbeing.

Knitters have known something for years - and it’s a bit more than just the joyful bi-product of how to make stitches to form a garment.

It’s about a mindful practise that naturally flows as one knits - I call this #Knititation.

And for me, it brought joy back to my life after suffering a moderately severe depressive episode as a result of toxic masculinity. This is the story behind my book Knit and Nibble.

Knit and Nibble by James McIntosh

I am worth something

As I started to knit, that one stitch, and then another, allowed me a sense of calm. A creation growing that I had made, a reason for me to be proud, to find my inner circadian rhythm with my knitting needles.

I started to notice that each stitch became a breath, each breath a feeling, each feeling acknowledged and understood. Each stitch a tangible product that my feelings were worth something. That I was worth something.


Slowly, as the knitted items grew from my needles, my confidence was growing too. The tatters of my mind post-depression were being knitted back together one stitch at a time. I was able to leave my home again, I was able to have a life. I learnt to talk about my feelings. To realise that they were valid, they were mine and they needed to be understood.

I call it Knititation

Knititation - Hand knitting as a mindfulness practise

Knititation is my form of meditation to bring joy back to my life and see in colour again.

I was never any good at traditional mindfulness or meditation.

Embrace the negatives people would say to me. Don’t hide them, learn to love them. I did not want to do this, it was too painful and daunting. Moreover, I did not understand what this meant. I mean, negatives are not nice things unless you're into mental sadomasochism! I had enough of the mental pain with depression so I did not want to embrace the negatives, I wanted to push them quietly under the carpet and leave them at the back of my mind.

Mindful movements

Dr Thomas Ernst FRCP explained mindfulness to me. My head was not able to concentrate on the present, so ‘mindful movements’ were suggested.

But when was the last time you moved mindfully? Thought about the actions, feelings and sensations of your body when carrying out a task like brushing your teeth, walking along the pavement?

When you actively feel the sensations of your body and acknowledge them while doing these things, it’s healing. Just being in the present and accepting your feelings and sensations, this is what they call mindfulness, and at a basic level it's simply just feeling and acknowledging what is in the present and embracing it through your bodily sensations. If that involves the negatives, letting your body feel these helps you to deal with them. Panic subsides, anxiety subdues, worry is dealt with by your body. I learnt the body actually has the answers, it's about spending time with the body.

Hand knitting is the same, felling the sensations of the yarn and needles as a stitch forms, and acknowledging these feelings and sensations allows thoughts to run through your mind as you are aware of them and feel the bodily sensations of stitch creation. This is knititation.

The biggest negative I found about dealing with the negative is not talking about the negative or recognising the negative.

Holding 2 knitting needles in-front of me gave me support, it allowed a barrier between myself and someone else - a safety net - to remove anxiety, fear and panic.

What have I learnt?

Embracing the negatives is not a scary process, after all, they are in the past and as I knit new stitches, the future is literally in my hands.

What have I found?

I found my best friend through knititation, and he is worth getting to know.

I’ve become very close to him. I like him and have learnt to love him and spend time with him.

I found my best friend was me. Whitney Houston was right, ‘learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all’. And when you learn this, no one can ever take away your dignity.

PSSO - the moral of the story

Or, for those of you who don't knit, PSSO is an abbreviation meaning Pass the Slipped Stitch Over.

I liken it to a lot of things in life due to societal pressures where issues are pushed under the carpet (so to speak) and left there decreasing the visibility to others of an issue - like the shaping on a garment edge is only known by the knitter, but others don’t want to look to see the passed over stitch - but it's still there, trying to be hidden, yet the cornerstone of the resulting garment visual.

Feelings and reality can not be passed over, they need discussed and allowed to be visible - like a stunning crisp raglan edge resulting from PSSO, rather than the bump provided using the alternative of K2tog.

So that’s my story.

And it’s as simple as just making stitches that lead to my wellness and internal joy after depression.

You can read more HERE

#knititation #knitandnibble #knitmcintosh #knitting #mindfulness #depression #toxicmasculinity

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